Amid the ongoing drama over alleged horse trading in Karnataka, the Congress on Wednesday called a Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting on 18 January in Bengaluru.
The decision comes in the wake of an impending political crisis in the southern state after some ‘rebel’ Congress MLAs went incommunicado. The Congress alleged that the MLAs, believed to be residing in a Mumbai hotel, are being lured by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to jump ship.
On Wednesday, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara accused the BJP of trying to destabilise the Mahagathbandhan in Karnataka.
“I see a bigger scheme. Our oath was attended by most non-BJP friends and was a kind of mahagathbandhan,” he said referring to the May 2018 ceremony which saw political leaders of all hues except saffron coming together on a single platform.
“If Congress-JD(S) are unsuccessful here, message will be that bigger alliance will fail. Maybe they were trying that,” Parameshwara, a Congress leader, added.
Karnataka Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao told PTI that the “entire confusion has been created by the BJP”.
“They did it brazenly throwing morality and ethics to the wind. It is shameful and disgusting,” he said.
On the other hand, the BJP stationed over 100 MLAs inside a hotel in Gurugram. State BJP president BS Yeddyurappa reportedly met the MLAs today. He had earlier rejected allegations that his party was attempting ‘Operation Lotus’ to topple the coalition government and counter accused the Congress-JD(S) of trying to poach saffron party’s MLAs.
“Despite having majority, the Congress-JD(S) combine is trying to lure our MLAs and indulging in horse-trading; BJP is not doing it. We with 104 MLAs are ready to work as opposition peacefully,” Yeddyurappa told reporters in New Delhi on Monday.
Hitting out at the BJP, Congress leader and Karnataka Minorities Minister Zameer Ahmed Khan asserted that the MLAs in Mumbai will return by Thursday.
“Who is scared today? Had we been scared, it would’ve been us in the resort sitting with our MLAs. But it is BJP who is sitting with their MLAs in a resort,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
“Yes, 2-3 MLAs are in Mumbai. All of them are coming back and they’ll return by tomorrow,” he added.
Youth Congress workers protested outside BJP office in Bengaluru over alleged attempts by the BJP to poach Congress MLAs.
While the Congress levelled allegations of horse trading on the BJP, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy had earlier today refuted media reports that the MLAs in Mumbai were incommunicado claiming that he is in touch with all of them.
The 59-year-old Janata Dal (Secular) leader, whose party allied with the Congress to form the government seven months ago, also brushed aside concerns after the withdrawal of support by two MLAs.
“Our coalition is going on smoothly. I was relaxed and I am relaxed. Don’t worry, be happy,” said Kumaraswamy.
Following reports that eight Congress MLAs may defect today, Congress MP KH Muniyappa tried to urge the two MLAs who withdrew their support to reconsider their decision.
“I invite all who left the fold to come back and not worry. Second generation Congressmen who won election must not feel insecure. (Congress chief) Rahul Gandhi and (INC party whip in Lok Sabha) KC Venugopal are aware of your grievances, you will be given chance in next cabinet expansion,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
In the 225-member Karnataka Legislative Assembly, the BJP has 104 members, Congress 80, JD(S) 37, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), KPJP and Independent one each.
The KPJP and the Independent were the two MLAs who left the coalition government on Tuesday.
(With inputs from agencies.)